Posts Tagged ‘development’

More Thoughts On Process

Posted by Sarah Jane on December 10, 2009


I hope to be posting more regularly once my grades are in next week — I’ll definitely have more time then, if not more intelligent ideas. In the meantime, I’d like to talk some more about the artistic process.

I’m currently working on a prototype for a piece that will be in Asbury’s faculty show next semester. In some ways, this piece is very different from any of my earlier work, and I’ve had to learn some new techniques and wrestle with some new ideas in the process of developing it. Exploring new directions is vital to any artist; without it the work remains undeveloped and stagnant. But necessity doesn’t always make it less scary.

Do you ever find yourself doing something that just doesn’t fit anywhere with your previous work? It’s like a first date — thrilling and scary and full of unknowns. I ask myself a lot of scary questions: is this a glimpse of what more of my work will look like in the future? Is this piece destined to be an anomaly; a work that never seems to fit with anything that I make? Will I look back in ten years and see the whole project as a waste of time and energy and epoxy?

In some highly rational part of my mind, I’m convinced that work is always worthwhile; that even my most complete failure now will give rise to the inklings of some future work. But those scary questions are incredibly persistent, and they still rattle me around a lot.

What about you? Have you experienced a dead-end project that was never fulfilled in some future work? How do you move yourself forward through uncharted territory?


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Empathy, Conscience & Consciousness

Posted by Sarah Jane on November 3, 2009

I was not-quite-eight years old in November 1989, when the word came that the Berlin Wall was coming down. It was an awakening for me; at that moment, world events ceased to be static or meaningless. Perhaps psychologists would identify that as a developmental stage — the moment at which history ceases to be a vague buzz in the background and suddenly becomes my own story. It’s a step forward in awareness and empathy and abstract thinking. And to the extent that such awareness creates responsibility, it’s a big step towards adulthood.

These are memories I simply don’t share with my students; their consciousness (and conscience) awoke at other moments — the Columbine shooting, 9/11, and countless other moments in between. That doesn’t make their understanding of the world less than my own, but it is necessarily different. Perhaps this is the truth in astrology: the timing of our birth profoundly impacts our experience of the world for the rest of our lives. We remember different things. We fear different things. And because of those, we ascribe meaning and value differently.

I started this post wanting to talk about the disconnect that this creates between my students and myself, although we are relatively close in age. But as I’m writing, the thing that seems most important is not the disconnect, but the potential for connection — for us to step inside one another’s experience and see the world through a diversity of perspectives. That willingness to connect and empathize with others, especially those whose experiences are radically different from our own, is another big step towards adulthood.

It is also a movement towards responsibility — from passive observation of the unfolding story, to active participation in its ongoing authorship.

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